Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor is all set to return to the Octagon after a year-long hiatus to take on former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on Jan 24.
Last year, Conor McGregor fought at UFC 246 on January 18 against Donald Cerrone. It was the biggest fight of the year and it set the PPV and gate record for the UFC in the year 2020. His fight against Donald Cerrone only lasted 40-seconds and McGregor vowed to fight three-times in 2020.
However, things took a wild turn as the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the planet and numerous sports organisation had to cancel live events and even when live sporting events were allowed to take place, the sports organisations weren’t allowed to have spectators in the stadiums and Arena. This delayed the return of Conor McGregor. While UFC events took place at UFC’s Apex facility and Fight Island, the promotion couldn’t let the Irish star fight in an empty Arena.
Conor McGregor brings in tens of millions of dollars in the live gate and that was a big money for the UFC to let go. With no fights available for him, Conor McGregor announced his retirement. However, now that his upcoming fight is set in Abu Dhabi and the public is allowed into the Etihad Stadium, it now makes sense for Conor McGregor to finally make his comeback.
“There was a lot of talks about me coming back, I was so eager to come back. I wanted to come back,” McGregor told ESPN recently (via MMA Mania). “The Tuesday after the fight against Cerrone I had that meeting with Lorenzo and Dana and the conversation was ‘What do we do now, what’s next? What was the next bout?’ We couldn’t, had not got the answer at that dinner. And it just didn’t come to fruition. I was eager, I was trying to get things moving, and it just didn’t happen with all the circumstances surrounding it, the year and what went down. It just went the way it went and it is what it is.
“I feel now, I have transformed myself into a lightweight frame again,” McGregor added. “I did it healthily and am full of energy and vitality and I’m ready to showcase myself at 155 pounds. At my absolute best and I’m very excited about that. Doing that opens up a lot of options for me. There are many lightweight contenders, and many options. I’ve heard Nate is coming back down to 155 which is exciting. There’s boxing escapades, and things. I don’t think what happened last year will happen this year.”
Conor McGregor: Retirement was out of frustration
Conor McGregor also revealed that he was frustrated by the whole process.
“It was out of frustration,” McGregor said. “When you’re trying to get things moving and it’s just not happening … you’re getting shelved, it felt like I was shelved almost. I felt like if I’d been run out a couple more times that year, not only would my skillset and sharpness be in tune more, we’re also talking 800 million in revenue for the company.
“It was certainly out of frustration, but it is what it is, the past is the past. I felt like I got what I needed to get off my chest, and I felt like it’s been reciprocated well and the other side has come back as well,” McGregor added. “So I’m in a great spot and I’m excited to come back, and that’s what we’re focusing on: the positive side of it and the future.”